Brand is seeking reform

Published: Monday, January 12, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 12, 2004 at 12:01 a.m.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - NCAA President Myles Brand applauded college presidents for firing coaches for behaving badly, and called on schools to hire more minority coaches and administrators.
Brand told delegates at the NCAA Convention on Sunday he wanted to reassert the integrity and value of college sports.
He warned that Division I schools, as well as those in Divisions II and III, are vulnerable to being too much like pro franchises by allowing athletics to become separate from the rest of the university.
"Advocating for the value of intercollegiate athletics ... has been made more difficult by several high-profile cases this past year," Brand said. "These cases involve high-visibility coaches acting badly, though there continue to be instances of student-athletes and even presidents failing to abide by the standards of propriety."
Brands didn't give any specific examples, but several have been well-documented.
Last spring, Alabama president Robert Witt fired new head football coach Mike Price after he admitted drinking heavily and visiting the strip club.
Rick Neuheisel was fired at Washington for taking part of an off-campus NCAA basketball pool.
Brand, in his second year as president, also touched on academic reform and said the NCAA needs to be more flexible in interpreting rules and granting waivers.
Brand said university presidents should be the leaders in balancing academic integrity and athletic success, and firing coaches for inappropriate ethics is a good start.
The lack of minority coaches is getting more attention. Only four of the 117 football head coaches in Division I-A this season were black, and Brand believes flaws in searches "makes it difficult or impossible for new talent to rise to the top," Brand said.
"That is unacceptable, especially given that a large portion of the student-athletes who participate on these teams are African-American," he said.
Brand warned of changes in collegiate programs if profit becomes more important than education.
"Intercollegiate athletics is not a freestanding, wholly autonomous enterprise. ... We have seen the type of drift to the professional model that will diminish, and in the long run will eliminate the value of the program to its university," Brand said.
The NCAA will be at the forefront of preserving college sports as part of an educational experience and provide a forum for discussion, Brand said.
He also promised to work toward completing an academic reform agenda.
Last fall, stricter requirements for incoming freshmen and continuing eligibility rules were put into effect.
Another part of reform involves a proposal to penalize Division I schools for poor academic performance. The head of a task force formed to devise the penalty program believes the NCAA board of directors will approve the measure in April.
Under the proposed program, beginning in the fall of 2005, coaches would be prohibited from re-awarding scholarships left open by an ineligible student.
More stringent penalties, including the reduction of scholarships and ban from postseason play, would be effective in the fall 2007.
"The feedback I've gotten is that the framework we're suggesting achieves (the NCAA's) goal," said Todd Turner, chairman of the Working Group on Incentives and Disincentives.
An NCAA committee will be formed to determine the levels used to determine which teams aren't performing well academically.
The convention began Friday and concludes Monday.

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